Crews Work to Prevent Landslides on Seattle-Everett Rail Corridor

Aug 20, 2013

Rail is an increasingly popular option for commuters between Seattle and Everett. But there’s one big drawback: the tracks are plagued by falling mud, rocks, and plant material. Last winter, slides delayed 81 Amtrak trains, and 206 Sounder commuter trains.

Now heavy equipment is clearing debris from the slopes above the tracks and building walls to catch small stuff that slides. They’re also beefing up safety fences, which act like tripwires on the hillsides that automatically stop trains when there is a slide.

David Smelser of the Washington Department of Transportation says the project won’t solve the landslide problem, which is still mostly a function of how much rain there is, but it could make a difference.

“This is terribly important for our service to the north This is one of the key disruptions, we have in the winter, and so it’s key to better, more reliable service,” Smelser said.

Smelser says work at the sites north of Edmonds and just south of Everett should wrap up by mid-fall. The overall project will eventually include four more sites along the north-south rail line.

A $16 million federal grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is paying for the work.